It is with great relief (and exhaustion) that I write this post from the Caledonian MacBrayne Ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides, with a well deserved pint in hand...
Having covered close to 170km today, the majority of which was in strong wind, heavy rain and across hilly terrain, we are both feeling totally exhausted and can barely walk!
We were unable to hit the road early today, as the first ferry from Mallaig was not until 8.15am, yet we needed to cover close to 170km of hilly terrain to reach Ullapool by 4.30pm, to catch the only ferry of the week to Stornoway... This put us under considerable pressure- If we missed this we would be totally stuffed!
This morning we opened the blinds at Mallaig RNLI Station to find the view of the harbour obscured by Scottish sea mist and heavy rain... a great start!
The ferry across from Malaig to Armadale gave us the chance to have some breakfast and plan for the day ahead. Setting out with knackered legs following our previous days ride certainly was not the best- especially with such a huge task ahead of us....
The initial ride up Skye, wearing our (now standard) bin bags, went well and we made good progress albeit were soaked within the first hour. I would certainly now vouch for the fact that wearing bin bags has very limited effect on keeping the rain out! We crossed the short but magnificent Skye Bridge, and dropped into the RNLI station at the Kyle of Lochalsh for a speedy photo before heading on.
The road ahead from here was hilly and the rain bucketed down. By 11am we were drenched and genuinely couldn't have got any wetter if we were to jump in a Loch! We were making reasonable progress but on tired legs the hills were proving extremely hard work and very painful.
Eventually the road bought us to the shores of Lochcarron , and along with this came more gently undulating roads. This enabled us to progress in earnest, and there was now a glimmer of hope that we may make the ferry in time. We even had a brief stint of dry weather and sunshine which was bliss, but it wasn't long before the next wave of rain hit.
With ham strings tightening and very stiff legs, bums, backs and necks we allowed ourselves 1 minute breaks every 10km to stretch out before heading on! We couldn't afford to stop for any longer than this, as we knew we were very tight on time for the ferry, and would also risk becoming hypothermic in our soaked kit, so pressed on...
Battling on into the headwind, we took it in turn to go in front and take the brunt of the wind and lashing rain while the other would slipstream behind.... Needless to say the road seemed endless!
The eventual sight of Ullapool in the distance was very welcome indeed, and we limped on to the end.
Exhausted but relieved to have made it in time, we had a quick shower at the ferry terminal and got some dry clothes on, before settling in for pint on the ferry. As Sod's law had it the skies cleared and the sun came out, giving some stunning views of the coastline during the crossing...
I also managed to capture one of Rad's extraordinary stretch routines on the ferry crossing as follows-
We arrived in Stornoway at 9pm , and for the first time in 3 days, with bright sunshine and clear skies. John met us at the RNLI station and gave us a very warm welcome before leaving us to hang up our soaked kit to dry and bed down for the night in the crew room. Fingers crossed for less rain tomorrow!